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Lahiru Thirimanne, find of the tournament for Sri Lanka

March 09, 2014 15:30 IST

Lahiru Thirimanne, find of the tournament for Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka regained the Asia Cup trophy with the heroics of Lahiru Thirimanne and Lasith Malinga. Heaping praise on Lahiru Thirimanne for his match-winning hundred against Pakistan in the final, Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said the youngster is shaping up to be the perfect replacement for veteran Kumar Sangakkara once he calls it a day.

"You push him up the order or down, he's one of those players who scores runs wherever he gets an opportunity. He is a great find for us," Mathews said of Thirimanne who scored 101 in their clinical five-wicket win over Pakistan to seal the Asia Cup title here last night.

"After Sangakkara and Mahela (Jayawardene) retire, Thirimanne and (Dinesh) Chandimal are the ones who are going to take up their roles. It's not easy to fill their shoes. But the way they are performing right now, I'm pretty sure that they will take the responsibilities.

"He (Thirimanne) has been amazing for us. He got injured in the last series unfortunately. He still had a little bit of niggle in last two innings while he batted. He was very courageous to come out and play," added Mathews.


Image: Sri Lanka's Lahiru Thirimanne celebrates.


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'You give him the opportunity he will score runs'

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Thirimanne got the opener's role after Tillakaratne Dilshan pulled out because of a finger injury during their series against Bangladesh here and Mathews said the left-hander could score runs at any spot.

"We have to see how it goes. He got to open the innings because Dilshan got injured in the Bangladesh series. As I've said, you give him the opportunity he will score runs for us. We still have not thought where he's going to bat but definitely he's been a find for us in this tournament."


Image: Sri Lanka's Lahiru Thirimanne celebrates after scoring a century against Pakistan.
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters

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'It's the hard work that has paid off'

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Praising the efforts of the team, Mathews said it was sheer hard work and not just their long stint in Bangladesh that made it possible.

"Just because we stayed here for a longer period here does not mean that we should automatically win. It's the hard work that has paid off. It gave us the edge but I think we still had to perform really well to beat the other teams," he said.

Sri Lanka had landed here much before any other team as they had to play a bilateral series against Bangladesh in January.

"Overall we had to play good cricket. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan are all dangerous teams," Mathews said.


Image: A jubilant Sri Lankan team.
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters

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'T20 is a funny game'

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Despite their Asia cup triumph, they would have to start afresh in the World Twenty20 beginning here in less than a fortnight.

"We can't say that because T20 is a funny game. It's totally a different format. It's a World Cup, all teams will be playing and quite eager. There will be a lot of competition. We have one week to turn up and play fresh cricket," he said.

"It can be an advantage we now know the conditions. But overall we have to start afresh. We still can improve as a team. We don't want to sit back and relax."


Image: Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga celebrates after picking up a wicket.
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters
Tags: T20 , Asia

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